Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Sarcophagus of Apophis

Inside the crate there is a large Egyptian style sarcophagus unlike anything you have ever seen. It radiates a faint field of power, vibrates when touched and the eyes on the sculpted visage glow an unearthly bale red. The Redshift Energies work order receipt calls it the Sarcophagus of Apophis and details that the crate shipment was bound for the Redshift Energies headquarters in, of all places, Emerald City.

Any attempt to open the sarcophagus fails.

Alexander Hackman

Unmasked for the first time the Commander appears to be a familiar face to those among you close to Emerald's City's political structure. Beneath the high tech helmet is the face of long standing Emerald City police commissioner Alexander Hackman. How can it be true that the man responsible for law and order in Emerald City has been an arch villain bent on global conquest this whole time.

There is more to this mystery than meets the eye.

Will you give Comissioner Hackman and the Commander super suit over the agents of AEGIS or will you return to Emerald City with him and question him yourselves?


The Commander utilizes a number of different robot minions in his attempts to subjugate the freedom loving people of the world. The two most common of his mechanical servants are his Commando-bots and Comm-Drones.

Commando-bots are independent henchmachines capable of feats of minor superstrength and short range teleportation. They often appear in large numbers to intimidate and subdue resistance or in smaller numbers to carry out specific tasks. They are armed with a head mounted laser.

Comm-Drones are flying surveillance machines that send live video feed back to the Commander, effectively extending the range of his own teleportation and machine control abilities. Comm-Drones are generally considered non-aggressive but are also armed with lasers they will use to defend themselves.


AEGIS or the American Elite Government Intervention Service is the US government military branch established in 1942 to deal with superhuman and paranormal threats to public and national safety.

AEGIS is a branch of the United States Armed Forces;and one of the country's eight uniformed services. The American Elite Government Intervention Service is a military, multi-mission service unique among the U.S. military branches for having a domestic law enforcement mission (with jurisdiction in all 50 states) and a regulatory agency mission as part of its mission set. It operates under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during peacetime, and can be transferred to the U.S. Department of the Army U.S. President at any time, or by the U.S. Congress during times of war. It has special regulatory authority to treat modified or super human Americans that are suspected of breaking federal, state and local laws as terrorists and enemies of the country.    

Often times AEGIS works with known super heroes as support and intelligence gathering, letting costumed heroes engage villains with the generally unmodified members of AEGIS handle evacuations, crowd control and coordination with local law enforcement.

Session One: Command of the Skies

Last time on Vanguard for Victory Ultima Saborosa and Doctor Robot were given a tour of the new Victory Tower complex only to seemingly be attacked two mysterious figures, a superstrong alien being from another dimension and a stealthy woman capable of both teleportation and invisibility. After a classic superhero brawl both are later identified as Shota and Adela Karensdatter, Vanguard applicants with rather unique interview styles. With the help of Major Talbot, Maximilian Mars and the Tower's resident AI Rosebud One three of the four new members of the Vanguard team got settled into their new headquarters while Doctor Robot flew off, wondering aloud how he got dragged into this mess. With three weeks before the official unveiling of the team all seemed to finally be quieting down... until alarm klaxons and red warning lights started going on inside the Tower and on Doctor Robot's cellphone.  

Los Angeles Airport, LAX, is under attack. The world class supervillain known only as the Commander has taken the entire airport hostage. The Vanguard is the closest team of superheroes.
Will they intervene and if they do, will they survive the experience?

There is only one way to find out.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Commander

The Commander is a long time supervillain known for testing the limits of superheroes and generally involving himself in nefarious plots ranging from the theft of experimental technology to the subjugation of urban centers. He has attempted to take over Liberty City on numerous occasions. Although Captain Thunder and others always overcame the Commander, they have never managed to hold him for long or expose his true identity.

The Commander controls a highly advanced powersuit of possible alien origin powered by a strange glowing crystal embedded in the breastplate of the armor. It grants him the powers of flight and teleportation as well as the ability to control any and all electronically controlled machinery he can perceive. He also wears a cape.

He is considered a world class threat and wanted by several sovereign nations for crimes against humanity... including the United States.

Vehicle: CAMPR

CAMPR is the unique transport vehicle prototype developed by Mars Tech on loan for use by the Vanguard for Victory. Originally designed for commercial space flight the CAMPR stands for Computer Assisted Multidirectional Personnel Rocket. The CAMPR's unique propulsion system allows it to silently maneuver in nearly any direction, hover and reach high altitude, suborbital heights and, theoretically, beyond. Nicknamed the 'Van' by Mars Tech owner Maximilian Mars the CAMPR is piloted by an advanced artificial intelligence also designed by Mars Tech known affectionately as 'Beethoven', but can be flown traditionally by anyone with specific training in the Transport skill. It is large enough to hold up to 30 passengers. The CAMPR is registered a test airplane by the FAA and must clear flights with local and international flight controllers. It is not outfitted with weapons of any kind.

Rosebud One

Rosebud One is a true artificial intelligence housed within and in control of Vanguard Tower. It was created by Maximilian Mars and is regarded as one of the most advanced AI ever developed. Rosebud One is the prototypical basis for the less advanced Rose Intelligent Robotic Operating System developed and mass marketed by Mars Tech. Unlike the commercial model Rosebud One is a fully aware and independent identity capable of spontaneous thought, emotion and philosophical contemplation. Inside Victory Tower Rosebud One can project avatars of itself using holographic technology based off of the imaging technology developed by Doctor Robot. Rosebud One monitors and moderates all functions within Victory Tower, including environmental controls, security, power and utility output, network access and communications. She can be quite sarcastic at times.

Headquarters: Victory Tower

Victory Tower is a modern marvel of engineering constructed by the city to house and support the Vanguard. It is located in the Riverfront district downtown with an unobstructed view of both the Bay Bridge and the Red River Bridge.

It is comprised of three major sections. The ground level complex is a publicly run facility that houses the Victory Foundation administrative offices, a public relations department, a covered parking garage, a gift shop, a cafe and a museum dedicated to the history of superheroes in Emerald City.

The majority of the tower is comprised of a sculptural scaffolding system comprised of interlocking Vs that support the upper portion. These V shaped Pylons are also state of the art solar cell energy collectors, providing independent power to the entire complex.

Travel between the ground level and the upper section is made possible by a series of elevators built within the supporting V structures, maintenance stairwells and a short range teleporter.

Just below the top floors of the tower exists an enclosed viewing platform that is open to the public.

The entire upper portion of the tower is a private facility devoted to the daily operations of the Vanguard superhero team. Within it is a fully staffed command center, dormitories for heroes and support staff, a small detention facility, a VTOL landing pad, cafeteria, training facility and conference center.

Rules Reference: Difficulties and Degrees of Success and Failure

Mutants & Masterminds can be broken down into a series of tasks the heroes must perform, from piecing together clues about a villain’s latest scheme to blasting said villain through a wall and disarming his doomsday device in the nick of time. It’s up to the Gamemaster to assign the difficulty of these and numerous other tasks in the game and to determine the outcome of the heroes’ efforts. Checks are made against a difficulty class or DC, a number set by the GM, which your check must equal or exceed to achieve success. So for a task with a DC of 15 you must roll a check total of 15 or greater to succeed. In some cases, the results of a check vary based on how much higher or lower the result is than the DC, known as its degree of success or failure.

The chance of an average character (with a modifier of 0) succeeding at an average task (DC 10) is just over 50% (55% to be exact). So any time you have to have an average character do something of average difficulty they have roughly a 55% chance of succeeding in it. If you want to know what bonus is required to have a 55% chance of succeeding at a particular task, just subtract 10 from the DC. So a DC 25 action (a formidable task) requires a bonus of +15 in order to have a 55% or average chance of success (on a roll of 10 or higher). Keep in mind that this chance of success on a task allows a character to automatically succeed at that task as a routine check (see below). A 55% chance also allows a player to spend a hero point to automatically succeed, since a hero point ensures
a die roll of at least 11.

If the situation is in the character’s favor, that’s good for a +2 bonus on a check. If it’s against the character, that’s a –2 penalty. If things are particularly good or bad, up the circumstance modifier to +/–5.

A check normally represents performing a task under a certain amount of pressure, in the midst of the furious action of super-heroic adventure. When the situation is less demanding, you can achieve more reliable results. Under routine circumstances—when you are not under any pressure—instead of rolling the die for the check, calculate your result as if you had rolled a 10. This ensures
success for average (DC 10) tasks with a modifier of +0 or more. More capable characters (with higher bonuses) can succeed on more difficult checks on a routine basis: a +10 bonus, for example, means a routine check total of 20, able to succeed at DC 20 tasks on a routine basis, and achieve three degrees of success on average (DC 10) tasks on a routine basis. If a character’s routine check result is not up to a task, the player still has the option to roll the die, since the task is by definition not routine for that character.

Rules Reference: Action and Adventure!

BAM! KAPOW! Like the comics, Mutants & Masterminds is about action, so this chapter looks at the flow of the game and how heroes accomplish their amazing feats, ranging from last-minute rescues and brilliant investigations to thrilling battles against the forces of evil.

The action round (or simply round) is how Mutants & Masterminds breaks down time when things like who goes first and how much each character can accomplish are important. A round represents about six seconds of time in the game world. During a round, each character involved takes a turn, which is that character’s opportunity to do something. A character has an allotment of actions, used during that character’s turn. Players decide what their characters do on their turns, while the GM handles everyone else’s turn.

Base initiative bonus is equal to your character’s Agility rank. At the start of a conflict, roll an initiative check for each character: d20 + initiative modifier
The initiative check determines what order characters act in, counting down from highest check result to lowest. If two characters have the same initiative result, they act in order of highest Dodge bonus first, then highest Agility and highest Awareness. If there is still a tie, each tied player should roll a die, with the highest roll going first.

The four types of actions characters can take are standard, move, free, and reaction. In a normal round, you can perform a standard action and a move action, or two move actions. You can also perform as many free and reactions actions as your GM allows.
A standard action allows you to do something. You can make an attack, use a skill, advantage, or power, or perform other similar actions. During a combat round, you can take a standard action and a move action.
A move action allows you to move your speed. You can take a move action in place of a standard action. You can make a DC 15 Athletics check as a free action to run faster: one or more degree of success increases your ground speed rank by +1 for one round.
Free actions consume very little time and, over the span of the round, their impact is so minor they are considered to take no real time at all. You can perform one or more free actions while taking another action. For instance, picking up or dropping an object, stowing a weapon or other object, standing up, dropping to a prone position, speaking a sentence or two, ceasing to concentrate on maintaining a power or perform some equivalent action are all free actions.
A reaction is something that happens in response to something else, like a reflex. Like free actions, reactions take so little time they’re considered free. The difference between the two is a free action is a conscious choice made on the character’s turn to act. A reaction can occur even when it’s not your turn to act. Some powers and other traits are usable as reactions.

In Mutants & Masterminds game terms, a challenge is an action or series of actions where players are called upon to make checks of their characters’ traits, but which do not involve direct conflict, such as fighting. Some challenges are quick and involve only a single character, such as a hero making a daring leap or acrobatic maneuver, while others are more involved and require the efforts of a whole team, such as clearing all of the people out of a burning building or searching the entire city (or world!) for an escaped criminal.

A conflict is when two or more characters go up against each other, typically in a fight of some sort. Conflict between heroes and villains is a prime part of Mutants & Masterminds and a big element of the fun, just like the colorful and spectacular fights in the superhero comic books.

An attack check represents an attempt to hit a target with an attack. When you make an attack check, roll the die and add your bonus with that attack. If your result equals or exceeds the target’s defense, your attack hits and may have some effect.
Attack Check = d20 + attack bonus vs. defense class

When you make an attack check and get a natural 20 (the d20 actually shows 20), you automatically hit, regardless of your target’s defense, and you score a threat. The hit might also be a critical hit (sometimes called a “crit”). To find out if it’s a critical hit, determine if the attack check total is equal to or greater than the target’s defense. If so, it is a critical hit. If not, the attack still hits, but as a normal attack, not a critical. A critical hit can have one of the following three effects, chosen by the player when the critical hit is determined:
• Increased Effect: The critical hit increases the difficulty to resist the attack’s effect by +5. Against a minion, this bypasses the resistance check entirely; the minion automatically receives the highest degree of the attack’s effect.
• Added Effect: The critical hit adds another effect onto the attack, but its effective rank is 0, so the resistance DC is just the base value (10, or 15 for Damage). The added effect can be anything the player can reasonably describe and justify as adjunct to the original effect: an Affliction (useful for all sorts of “gut checks,” blows to the head or vitals, etc.), Dazzle (blood in the eyes, boxing the ears, etc.), or Weaken to name a few. The GM decides if the effect suits the circumstances of the attack. The target makes resistance checks against the attack’s initial and added effects separately.
• Alternate Effect: The critical hit results in an alternate effect for the attack, like a use of extra effort for a power stunt, except the character suffers no fatigue as a result. This option can represent a “lucky” attack that does something completely different, like blinding a target, or imposing a condition such as those found under the Affliction effect.

Conversely, a natural 1 (the d20 comes up 1) on an attack check is always a miss, regardless of your total result.

Your defenses determine how difficult it is to hit you with various attacks. Most attacks target your active defenses, Dodge and Parry: close attacks target Parry while ranged attacks target Dodge.
You add your defense rank to a base value of 10 (like a routine check) to determine your defense class against an attack, which is the DC of the attack check:
Defense Class = defense + 10
So a hero with Parry 11 has a defense class of 21 (11 + 10) against close attacks. If the same hero has Dodge 9, that is a defense class of 19 (9 + 10) against ranged attacks.

A successful attack with a Damage effect requires the target to make a Toughness resistance check. The circumstance penalties to Toughness checks are cumulative, so a target who fails three resistance checks against Damage, each with one degree of failure, has a total –3 penalty. Strength provides a “built-in” Damage effect: the ability to hit things! Like other Damage effects, a character’s Strength Damage is close range and instant duration by default.
Any decrease in your Strength reduces the amount you can add to your Damage, and negative Strength subtracts from your Damage! Likewise, anything
that prevents you from exerting your Strength also
stops you from using a Strength-based Damage effect. If you can’t swing your fist, you can’t swing a sword, either.

An attack has one of three ranges: close, ranged, and perception. A close attack can only affect a target you can physically reach, by touch or wielding a melee weapon, for example. A ranged attack can affect a target at a distance, while a perception attack can hit a target you are able to accurately perceive automatically without need
for an attack check. A ranged attack has a short range up to its rank x 25 feet, at which it has no penalties. At medium range (up to rank x 50 feet), the attack check has a –2 circumstance modifier.
At long range (up to rank x 100 feet), the attack check has a –5 circumstance modifier. Ranged attacks cannot go beyond long range; a target further away is out of range and cannot be attacked.

Rules Reference: Extra Effort and Hero Points

Heroes are sometimes called upon to perform feats beyond even their amazing abilities. This calls for extra effort. Players can use extra effort to improve a hero’s abilities in exchange for the hero suffering some fatigue. The benefits of extra effort are not limited by power level due to their extraordinary nature.

Players can have their heroes use extra effort simply by declaring they are doing so. Extra effort is a free action and can be performed at any time during the hero’s turn (but is limited to once per turn). A hero using extra effort gains one of the following benefits:

  • ACTION Gain an additional standard action during your turn, which can be exchanged for a move or free action, as usual.
  • BONUS Perform one check with a bonus (+2 circumstance bonus) or improve an existing bonus to a major bonus (+5 circumstance bonus). This bonus can also negate a penalty (–2 circumstance penalty), allowing you to perform the check with no modifier, or reduce a major penalty from a –5 penalty to a –2 penalty.
  • POWER Increase one of your hero’s power effects by +1 rank until the start of the hero’s next turn. Permanent effects cannot be increased in this way.
  • POWER STUNT Temporarily gain and use an Alternate Effect (see Alternate Effect in the Powers chapter). The Alternate Effect lasts until the end of the scene or until its duration expires, whichever comes first. Permanent effects cannot be used for power stunts.
  • RESISTANCE Gain an immediate additional resistance check against an ongoing effect. If you’re compelled or controlled, the fatigue from the extra effort doesn’t affect you until you’re free of the effect; this is so you can’t resist yourself to exhaustion as a way of avoiding being controlled!
  • RETRY Certain effects (see the Powers chapter) require extra effort to retry after a certain degree of failure. The extra effort merely permits another attempt to use the effect; it grants no other benefits.
  • SPEED Increase the hero’s speed rank by +1 until the start of the hero’s next turn.
  • STRENGTH Increase the hero’s Strength rank by +1 until the start of the hero’s next turn.

At the start of the turn immediately after using extra effort, the hero becomes fatigued. A fatigued hero who uses extra effort becomes exhausted and an exhausted hero who uses extra effort is incapacitated. If you spend a hero point (see below) at the start of the turn following the extra effort to remove the fatigue, the hero suffers no adverse effects. In essence, spending a hero point lets you use extra effort without suffering fatigue.

Whether it’s luck, talent, or sheer determination, heroes have something setting them apart from everyone else, allowing them to perform amazing feats under the most difficult circumstances. In Mutants & Masterminds that “something” is hero points. Spending a hero point can make the difference between success and failure in the game. When you’re entrusted with the safety of the world, that means a lot! Hero points allow players to “edit” the plot of the adventure and the rules of the game to a degree. They give heroes the ability to do the amazing things heroes do in the comics, but with certain limits, and they encourage players to make the sort of choices heroes do in the comics, in order to get more hero points. Players start each game session with 1 hero point. During
the adventure they get opportunities to earn more hero points.  Unspent hero points don’t carry over to the next adventure; the heroes start out with 1 point again. Use them or lose them! Since hero points are a finite resource, players need to manage them carefully, spending them at the most opportune times and taking chances to earn them through complications. Playing it “safe” tends to eliminate chances of getting more hero points while taking risks, facing complications, and, in general, acting like a hero offers rewards that help them out later on.

Unless otherwise noted, spending a hero point is a reaction, taking no time, and you can spend as many hero points as you have. You can spend hero points for any of the following:


    • EDIT SCENE You can “edit” a scene to grant your hero an advantage by adding or changing certain details. For example, a hero is fighting a villain with plant-based powers in a scientific lab. You deduce the villain may be weakened by defoliants, so you ask the GM if there are any chemicals in the lab you can throw together to create a defoliant. The Gamemaster requires a hero point to add that detail and says the right chemicals are close at hand. Now you just have to use them! Generally hero points should not be allowed to change any event that has already occurred or any detail already explained in-game. This option is intended to give the players more input into the story and allow their heroes chances to succeed, but it shouldn’t be used as a replacement for planning and cleverness, just a way to enhance them.
    • HEROIC FEAT You can spend a hero point to gain the benefits of one rank of a advantage you don’t already have until the end of your next turn. You must be capable of using the advantage and cannot gain the benefits of fortune advantages, only other types. If the advantage has any prerequisites, you must have them to gain the benefits of the advantage as a heroic feat.
    • IMPROVE ROLL One hero point allows you to re-roll any die roll you make and take the better of the two rolls. On a result of 1 through 10 on the second roll, add 10 to the result, an 11 or higher remains as-is (so the re-roll is always a result of 11-20). You must spend the hero point to improve a roll before the GM announces the outcome of your initial roll. You cannot spend hero points on die rolls made by the GM or others without the Luck Control effect.
    • INSPIRATION You can spend a hero point to get sudden inspiration in the form of a hint, clue, or bit of help from the GM. It might be a way out of the villain’s fiendish deathtrap, a vital clue for solving a mystery, or an idea about the villain’s weakness. It’s up to the GM exactly how much help the players get from inspiration and how it manifests, but since hero points are a very limited resource, the help should be in some way significant.
    • INSTANT COUNTER You can spend a hero point to attempt to counter an effect used against you as a reaction. See Countering Effects in the Powers chapter for details.
    • RECOVER You can spend a hero point to recover faster. A hero point allows you to immediately remove a dazed, fatigued, or stunned condition, without taking an action. Among other things, this option allows you to use extra effort (previously) without suffering any fatigue. Spending a hero point to recover also lets you convert an exhausted condition into a fatigued condition.

    In comic book stories, heroes often confront the villain(s) and deal with various setbacks. Perhaps the villain defeats or outwits them in the first couple scenes. Maybe one or more of the heroes have to overcome a personal problem. The villain may have a secret the heroes need to discover, and so forth. By the end of the story, the heroes have overcome these challenges and they’re ready to take on the villain. Mutants & Masterminds reflects this kind of story structure through the awarding of hero points. The heroes gain additional hero points as an adventure progresses. When the going gets tough, the heroes get tougher, because they get hero points to help them overcome future challenges. Heroes get hero points from complications, acts of heroism, and roleplaying.

    Rules Reference - Abilities and Skills

    Strength measures sheer muscle power and the ability to apply it. Your Strength rank applies to:
    • Damage dealt by your unarmed and strength-based attacks.
    • How far you can jump (based on an Athletics skill check).
    • The amount of weight you can lift, carry, and throw.
    Athletics skill checks.

    Stamina is health, endurance, and overall physical resilience. Stamina is important because it affects a character’s ability to resist most forms of damage. Your Stamina modifier applies to:
    Toughness defense, for resisting damage.
    Fortitude defense, for resisting effects targeting your character’s health.
    • Stamina checks to resist or recover from things affecting your character’s health when a specific defense doesn’t apply.

    Agility is balance, grace, speed, and overall physical coordination.
    Your Agility rank applies to:
    Dodge defense, for avoiding ranged attacks and other hazards.
    Initiative bonus, for acting first in combat.
    Acrobatics* and Stealth skill checks.
    • Agility checks for feats of coordination, gross movement, and quickness when a specific skill doesn’t apply.

    Dexterity is a measure of hand-eye coordination, precision, and manual dexterity. Your Dexterity rank applies to:
    Attack checks for ranged attacks.
    Sleight of Hand* and Vehicles* skill checks.
    • Dexterity checks for feats of fine control and precision when a specific skill doesn’t apply.

    Fighting measures your character’s ability in close combat, from hitting a target to ducking and weaving around any counter-attacks. Your Fighting rank applies to:
    Attack checks for close attacks.
    Parry defense, for avoiding close attacks.

    Intellect covers reasoning ability and learning. A character with a high Intellect rank tends to be knowledgeable and well-educated. Your Intellect modifier applies to:
    Expertise*, Investigation*, Technology*, and Treatment* skill checks.
    • Intellect checks to solve problems using sheer brainpower when a specific skill doesn’t apply.

    While Intellect covers reasoning, Awareness describes common sense and intuition, what some might call “wisdom.” A character with a high Intellect and a low Awareness may be an “absent-minded professor” type, smart but not always aware of what’s going on. On the other hand, a not so bright (low Intellect) character may have great deal of common sense (high Awareness). Your Awareness
    modifier applies to:
    Will defense, for resisting attacks on your mind.
    Insight and Perception skill checks.
    • Awareness checks to resolve matters of intuition when a specific skill doesn’t apply.

    Presence is force of personality, persuasiveness, leadership ability and (to a lesser degree) attractiveness. Presence is useful for heroes who intend to be leaders as well as those who strike fear into the hearts of criminals with their presence. Your Presence modifier applies to:
    Deception, Intimidation, and Persuasion skill checks.
    • Presence checks to influence others through force of personality when a specific skill doesn’t apply.

    *Skill that requires training